It was at this time last year that I had first heard, from a Turkish friend who works alongside the archaeologists, the whisper that the ‘small finds’ house, next to the Temple of Apollo precinct, was to have its contents moved to the Miletus Museum or the Excavation House in Didyma.
Upon inquiring as to why this should be necessary he told me that the house was to be opened to the public. Intriguing, but no great revelation therein. Though when he expanded his reasoning to reveal that this would be a prelude to the Sacred Road being reopened to the public my happiness reached euphoric levels.
My feelings are probably dismissive of the gravity of this pandemic we continue to ease free from, though I certainly have sorely missed my usual visits to the Temple of Apollo. A small window of opportunity offered itself recently and was hungrily devoured. Nothing much has changed upon the archaeological site; the columns still stand proud as sentinels, the marble continues to dazzle beneath a sun-filled sky, the groundwater steadily dribbles into the southeast section, the reeds growing in abundance, and the Sacred Road remains firmly shut to any inquisitive mind.
Those of you who follow my articles, or have purchased my book, shall be acutely aware of my desire to once more open the Sacred Road at its conclusion at the Temple of Apollo in Didyma. It is a forlorn sight to be witness to countless foreign visitors peering through the metal railings, or over the stone wall, which impedes their imaginations. Some travel from the other side of the globe to see the ancient treasures of Turkey, but their efforts to experience this particularly interesting site is sadly and mysteriously out of bounds. It rather posits the question, “Why? For what earthly reason?”
Last week I received a most welcome correspondence from the hydrologist responsible for redirecting the water falling into the southeast section of the Temple of Apollo sanctuary in ancient Didyma, Turkey.
This pleased me immensely as there has been a deafening silence from this quarter for a number of months. Though after I sent a number of photographs as evidence for the waters now mingling within the archaeological remains of the Christian Basilica which once stood within the adyton (inner courtyard), Professor Helmut Brückner responded with admirable haste.
It was quite perplexing to observe that the excavation trench reaching down into the depths of the Sacred Spring was in a condition of being reinterred when I visited the site on Sunday. Perplexing, for as to my knowledge, the archaeologists had burrowed no further than 1 to 1.5 metres beneath the surface. That may have been enough to reveal the broken and almost demolished stairwells, but if it were their aim to locate the 'sweet waters' of the spring (and I do not know if that was their intent) it is well recorded by none less than Klaus Tuchelt, former Director of Excavations here in Didyma, that the spring resides at least 2.5 metres beneath the surface of the Archaic floor upon which we walk today. See Tuchelt K., 'Fragen zum Naiskos von Didyma,' Archäologister Anzeiger, 1986. I have also learnt that this depth is noted in the diaries of Knackfuß and Hörmann.